Newspaper article International New York Times

Chinese Province Issues Rules for Gentler Chicken Slaughter

Newspaper article International New York Times

Chinese Province Issues Rules for Gentler Chicken Slaughter

Article excerpt

New voluntary guidelines in Shandong Province are motivated at least as much by commercial considerations as by concerns for animal welfare.

In its final hours before being butchered, a chicken deserves to be reasonably comfortable and relatively stress-free. This is the message from China's first official recommendations to the poultry industry, recently issued by Shandong Province, on how to slaughter the animals.

The guidelines, which are not mandatory, are motivated at least as much by commercial considerations as by concerns for animal welfare. Shandong is China's leading producer of chickens, but traces of damage to the birds, like broken limbs or blood clots in the meat, have hurt exports.

Still, animal welfare advocates are praising the standards.

"Such specific guidelines," said Jeff Zhou, China representative of Compassion in World Farming, a British organization that campaigns to end factory farming. "I'm very grateful that they did this in Shandong."

The guidelines, according to People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper, list the steps leading to slaughter and detail for each the recommended procedures to ensure that the chicken's death is as painless as possible.

For example, the guidelines advise against transporting a live chicken longer than three hours. A chicken should be held with both hands, not seized by a single leg or wing. Before being killed, the bird should be anesthetized by being gassed or having its head dipped into electrified water. The guidelines also recommend using a massaging pad to support the chicken's breast as the birds are moved on an assembly line to be stunned.

Humane slaughter alone does not remove all the cruelty that animals in intensive factory farming experience, Mr. Zhou said, but the guidelines address an important part of it. "It's a step in the right direction," he said.

The organization is working with its Chinese partners, including the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare, a government-backed research institute, to push for more humane practices in China and has released similar recommendations for raising, shipping and slaughtering pigs, cattle and sheep. …

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